Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Mr. Rogers on health care reform. No, not that Mr. Rogers. This one . . .

A Senior Speaks Out on Obamacare

Speaking from his heart about the treachery of health care reform. This is a must watch video.

Part 2 . . .

I especially loved the bit about job counseling.

A Rebuttal to Government Run Health Care

And here is the counterpoint to government run health care . . .

Why We Need Government Run Health Care

Some people think we need to let the government run health care. You know, like they do the Post Office, the IRS, Cars for Clunkers . . .

Mass Flip-Flop

Gov. Deval Patrick is playing peek-a-boo with immigrants in the Bay State.

You know the game.

“Where’s health insurance?”

“Where’s health insurance?”

“Boo! There it is.”

State-subsidized health insurance for 31,000 legal immigrants here will no longer cover dental, hospice or skilled-nursing care under a scaled-back plan that Gov. Deval Patrick announced Monday.

Mr. Patrick said his administration had struggled to find a solution “that preserves the promise of health care reform” after the state legislature cut most of the $130 million it had previously allotted immigrants, to help close a budget deficit. Although their health benefits will be sharply curtailed in some cases, Mr. Patrick portrayed the new program as a victory, saying the services that the affected group tends to use the most will still be covered.

Only a politician could make cutting benefits sound like he is doing you a favor.

It is important to note these are LEGAL immigrants. Foreign nationals here on certain types of visa’s are required to have proof of health insurance. Why are the citizens of Massachusetts paying taxes to cover immigrants health insurance?

Mr. Patrick described the new coverage as comprehensive and said it could be a model for less expensive state-subsidized benefits as health care costs continue to rise. Under the 1996 federal law that overhauled the nation’s welfare system, the 31,000 affected immigrants do not qualify for Medicaid or other federal aid. Massachusetts is one of the few states — others are California, New York and Pennsylvania — that provide at least some health coverage for such immigrants.

They don’t qualify for Medicaid? Wanna bet?

I am sure Georgia is not alone in covering immigrants, legal or otherwise, who don’t have health insurance but have babies in our hospitals and Medicaid picks up the tab.

I see Ca-lee-forn-ya is on the list of those providing health coverage for immigrants. Are they still handing out IOU’s and Arnie bucks to pay their bills?

Because of its three-year-old law requiring universal health coverage, Massachusetts has the country’s lowest percentage of uninsured residents: 2.6 percent, compared with a national average of 15 percent.

That’s nice, but . . .

All of the affected immigrants will be covered under the new plan by Dec. 1, Mr. Patrick said; in the meantime they will have to rely on hospitals that provide free emergency care to the poor.

Seems like a step back to me.

Isn’t Gov. Patrick the same one who wants to change the law, the one imposed when Republican Gov. Romney was in office, to allow him to appoint an interim U.S. Senator to replace Sen. Kennedy?

“Massachusetts needs two voices in the United States Senate at any time but particularly now with the gravity of the issues,” Patrick said.

Republicans charge that the Democrats are trying to make a political power play. In 2004, the Democratically controlled Legislature took the power to fill a vacant Senate away from then-governor Mitt Romney, because lawmakers did not want him to have the chance, in the event Senator John F. Kerry won the presidency, to fill his seat with a Republican.

So it is OK to take the power of appointment away from a Republican governor and then restore the law under a Democratic governor . . . but only if it serves to benefit you.

And let’s not overlook the fact that MA can’t fund the cost of their white elephant health care plan so they want the rest of the U.S. taxpayers to help them pay for it.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said she was worried about immigrants’ having to find new primary care doctors at a time when the state is suffering from a shortage of such providers. She also said that the new coverage would in some cases require a much higher co-payment — $50 instead of between $1 and $3 — for non-generic prescription drugs, and that enrollment would be capped at the 31,000 current enrollees.

$1 copay’s for brand name drugs.

And they don’t have a clue why the plan is running out of money.

What are they smoking in Massachusetts?

Mass is Ahead of the Rest of Us

I just gotta ask. Is Barney Frank even remotely aware of what is happening to health insurance in his home state of Massachusetts?

Apparently not.

Three years ago, Massachusetts, under Gov. Mitt Romney implemented a program designed to make health insurance more affordable while covering everyone.

Sound familiar?

Today 97% of Massachusetts residents have health insurance.

But at what price?

“Anything that is on the track that we’re on today will not only derail health care reform but could literally derail the economy,” said Lynn Nicholas, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association.

That can’t be good.

President Obama and many Democrats in Congress say bringing down costs is a key element of current proposals.

But a congressional budget chief recently said that current proposals would not do enough to rein in costs.

Truth be known, the proposals don’t do anything to rein in costs other than shifting to providers in the form of lower reimbursements and cutting or refusing benefits.

That’s like trying to make the Titanic lighter, so it won’t sink as fast, by throwing the passengers and crew over the side.

President Obama has talked about creating savings by reimbursing more for preventative care. In a recent town hall, he explained that treating diabetes through weight loss and diet is cheaper than letting it progress to where circulation problems develop and a leg has to be amputated.

That was his infamous $50,000 leg amputation meeting.

Beyond that, preventive CARE does almost nothing to lower costs.

Healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise, refrain from tobacco use and alcohol in moderation do more for lowering the cost of health care than any preventive care program. The idea is to keep you OUT of the doctors office, not running up the bill with diagnostic testing.

“So why not make sure that we are also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation? Right? That will save us money,” Obama said.

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t agree it will save money. In an analysis of the House bill, the agency shows no cost savings from eliminating copayments and deductibles for preventive care. It also says that covering preventative services in Medicaid could cost an extra $7 billion over the next 10 years.

Well, that’s what happens when he goes off script.  It is really frustrating to TOTUS.

One much-touted way to cut rising health care costs, that President Obama talked about on the campaign trail, involves investing in information technology. Paying to install databases that keep track of medical records can help health care become more efficient.

Better electronic record keeping could ensure that costly tests aren’t duplicated or that drugs aren’t prescribed that react with other kinds of drugs. But nobody’s quite sure how much such an investment can save.

Not sure how much it will save has never stopped them before.

Just like Thelma & Louise, health care reform is headed for the cliff except the car isn’t as spiffy.

Health Insurance Co-op

Public option is out  . . . maybe. Health insurance co-op is in . . . maybe.

In an effort to buy support for Obamacare, the folks in Obamington are now saying the public will have a chance to buy Obamaplans through a not for profit cooperative.

What could be wrong with that?

Co-ops work well for food and utilities. And not for profit means it has got to be cheaper, right?

The New York Times asks, “What is a health insurance co-op?”

Good question.

But they did get some of the answers wrong.

But one thing that it’s important to get straight from the beginning is the difference between insurance co-ops and health insurance purchasing co-ops. There was a real movement in the 1990s to purchase insurance through co-ops. Those are similar to the exchanges that are being proposed. A few of them got going. They were not remarkably successfully, either. The idea was that consumers bargain with insurance companies to buy insurance.

Notice they said “they were not remarkably successful”.

There are plenty of reasons for that, not the least of which most state regulatory agency’s deemed them illegal. As such, many carriers simply refused to participate.

The few that still exist are nothing more than an endorsement from some quasi-group (such as the Chamber of Commerce) on the promise of a nominal (usually 3%) discount.

What you have in the United States now is concentration of insurance markets. You hear this stuff about 1,300 insurers in the United States and all this competition. But just try to get more than one of them to bid on your contract for a health plan in the Shenandoah, where I am. One insurer controls 87 percent of the market in Harrisonburg, Va.

Think about this for a moment.

I am not going to challenge the 87% market share figure for it may well be right. But how is it one carrier can control 87% of a particular market unless they are offering a competitive product?

There is no question that some carriers, notably Blue Cross, will write business simply because of their brand. But there is no way for them, or any other carrier to dominate a market unless they deliver a competitive product. By virtue of price and value, perceived or otherwise, they preclude any competitors from eroding their base. The only way to unseat a health insurance company that controls 87% of the market is to undercut them on price.

Wal-Mart controls a major portion of retail sales across the country. If someone, say J. C. Penney, decided they wanted to take business away from Wal-Mart they would have to compete on price. I submit that JCP would bite the dust before ever making a dent in WM’s market share.

Same would be true of any carrier who tries to take on big Blue (or any other dominant health insurance carrier).

So the idea that the 87% market share exists because of lack of competition is just plain stupid. But then, it does come from Washington so I repeat myself.

If you had a public plan that could use Medicare rates, the infrastructure would already be there. It could use the Medicare network.

Now this is just plain silly.

Devise a public plan that uses the Medicare rates and Medicare network.

Why come up with a NEW plan? Why not just use Medicare (or Medicaid)?

That’s like those ads for the Toyota Camry where folks say they looked at cars that were “just as good as a Camry” and then it dawned on them. Why buy a knock off when you can get the real thing?

The idea that the public plan will dominate the market, I don’t see that. As the president said, we have a post office, Federal Express and U.P.S. I use all three. The idea [of relying solely on private insurers] is like saying we’ll abolish the post office and give people vouchers to send letters with Federal Express.

I will give them half credit on this one.

Yes, shutting down the Post Office and giving us vouchers to use UPS or FedEx would be silly. But a “public plan” has an advantage no private carrier would have.

The ability to continually operate at a deficit and use taxpayer money in a confiscatory manner means advantage public plan.

Frankly, the idea of a health insurance co-op is just a smoke screen. Truth is, the government really doesn’t care so much about covering the uninsured as they do creating another entitlement program for the masses. If Medicaid and Medicare operated as they should we wouldn’t have a “problem” with the uninsured.

Doc's Priority – Overhaul Health Care System

The incoming president of the medical association says the current health care system is sick and needs an overhaul.

“We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize,” Doig said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We know that there must be change,” she said. “We’re all running flat out, we’re all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands.”

Canadian Press?

“Doig” would be Dr.Anne Doig, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association.

The pitch for change at the conference is to start with a presentation from Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, who has said there’s a critical need to make Canada’s health-care system patient-centred. He will present details from his fact-finding trip to Europe in January, where he met with health groups in England, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands and France.

Let me see if I have this right.

The current system is sick, but BEFORE proposing an overhaul they are actually studying systems in other countries.

What a novel idea.

Ouellet has been saying since his return that “a health-care revolution has passed us by,” that it’s possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and “that competition should be welcomed, not feared.”

Make waiting lists disappear? That is supposed to be fantasy or lies by those who oppose . . . change . . .

And what is this competition of which he speaks?

Is this an admission that the government needs competition from the private sector in order to be competitive?

“(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now – if it keeps on going without change – is not sustainable,” said Doig.

Sounds like a page out of Obama’s playbook.

Change you can believe in. Yes, you can.

Elvis is Dead and Commonwealth Care Doesn't Look Good Either

The Massachusetts experiment in mandating health insurance for everyone is running into problems.

Commonwealth Care is not even three years old and if it were a person, would suffer from morbid obesity. Originally pegged to cost taxpayers $245 million it has grown like Kudzu to $1.3 billion.

Time to put CC on a diet.

In fact, according to Boston.com a proposed $115 million in cuts are under consideration right now.

Wait!

The proposed cuts are 12% of the current years budget but almost HALF of the projected first year budget when CC was conceived.

How can that be?

It seems the housing inspired recession has hit Massachusetts in the wallet. So how do they propose dealing with this shortfall?

The largest share of the savings will come from slowing enrollment.

Slowing enrollment.

Sounds like rationing to me.

Savings will also come from eliminating dental coverage for the poorest residents enrolled in Commonwealth Care,

Cutting benefits. Yep, that’s one way to save money.

Also hanging in the balance is the health insurance status of 28,000 legal immigrants whose Commonwealth Care coverage was dropped in the budget lawmakers approved for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Cutting access to LEGAL immigrants. That’s an interesting twist.

The progress of the Massachusetts healthcare initiative is being closely watched in Washington, where Congress is crafting national legislation to extend coverage to more Americans. The Massachusetts law, cited as one model in the national debate, requires nearly everyone to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

It doesn’t seem to me like the folks in DC are paying much attention. Rather, they are going full steam ahead with a model that has already hit an iceberg and is taking on water.

Leaders of Health Care for All, one of the state’s largest consumer groups, said the changes will be especially hard on residents whose first language is not English and who have difficulty understanding the complex enrollment paperwork.

Complex government red tape? No way.

While the group’s leaders are resigned to that cut, they said they will continue to lobby the governor to restore coverage for legal immigrants. Lawmakers said they cut this class of legal immigrants because they do not qualify for matching federal subsidies.

Mass can’t pay for the plan by themselves. They need Washington to pick funds from the national money tree to pay for this program.

Much of the rest of the $115 million in savings, $32 million, comes from slowing payments to the managed-care health insurance companies that won bids to offer insurance through the Commonwealth Care program. Regulators said that by slowing enrollment growth, the companies would receive less money than they had banked on when they submitted their bids earlier this year.

Slow pay to the carriers providing coverage. Yeah, that’s a good way to make sure the carriers stay in the game.

Wonder what would happen if the carriers decide to pick up their ball & bat and go home?

Change you can believe in.

Yes you can.

Take a Number

Ever wonder how the health care systems in other countries works (or doesn’t work)? Take Canada for example.

Check out the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Some eye-opening data there.